In a changing and increasingly complex world, Member States are facing new challenges in terms of security and threats. This includes the effects of climate change, increasing threat to peace and security as well as disease and environmental related illnesses. Therefore, when affected by disaster, governments face a dual challenge: protecting their borders from illegal traffic and smuggling activities while ensuring the speedy and efficient importation of emergency relief goods to effectively coordinate the response. Clear procedures, protocols and efficient national customs administrations are requested.
Unfortunately, despite UN resolutions, international instruments and recommendations, very few governments are adequately prepared for the possibility that they may one day require and receive huge quantities of relief aid. The lack of customs facilitation procedures results in delayed release of humanitarian consignments and therefore in delays in the provision of life-saving assistance for people in need, as well as an increased cost of humanitarian assistance.
In parallel, the humanitarian community has very poor understanding of the role of Customs.
The focus of IMPACCT Working Group has primarily been on the importation of relief items during natural disasters. Nonetheless, in the rise of complex emergencies*, the IMPACCT WG has received an increasing number of requests from humanitarian partners on the cross-border movement of relief items under such circumstances. There is a need to address the bureaucratic impediments faced by humanitarian operators when importing relief goods during complex emergencies.
How can OCHA facilitate a collective effort to reduce, minimize, if at all eliminate bureaucratic access impediments to humanitarian operations?
By convening a network of technical partners to develop a collective approach and tools in support of national coordination mechanisms. Through this network, OCHA advocates for, and promotes the implementation of internationally recommended customs facilitation measures for humanitarian readiness and response. This network of partners in turn leverages their own operational networks.
For detailed information, please see the .
*Complex emergencies are defined by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee as "a humanitarian crisis in a country, region, or society where there is a total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which requires an international response that goes beyond the mandate or capacity of any single agency and/or the ongoing UN country programme”.